Tuesday, September 18, 2018

It's Fig Season In Sonoma. Time for Fig and Lobster Risottto!

   If there is one fruit that stands out among my favorites, cherry, pomegranate, and persimmon, it's figs. I love them. Any variety, any time. One of the first things we did when we put the vegetable garden in at our new house was plant a fig tree. I thought I was buying a Mission fig. Instead our tree is a panache fig.

Tiger striped, and incredibly sweet, they are the last figs to ripen in fig season so we're still waiting. However, we have a friend who has a magnificent fig tree but hates figs. Isn't that always the way it is? He's perfectly happy to let me pillage his tree every year around this time. I take away pounds of figs. When I see them at the market for 6.99 for a little basket I laugh because up here in Sonoma figs are like weeds. They grow all along the roadsides and anyone can just help themselves. A few years back a friend and I did the whole gleaning thing and we gathered pounds and pounds and pounds of unwanted figs. I made preserves from mine. If you'd like the recipe it's here...Fig Jam. Or, if you'd like a roasted fig and goat cheese ice cream...I've made that too.

The recipe is here.But now I'm interested in something beyond just the figs...I'm into the fig leaves. Yes, fig leaves. Straight up Adam and Eve wardrobe, now I discover it's edible. Who knew?

   As it turns out fig leaves can be used for a variety of purposes very similar to grape leaves. They can be used as a food wrapping, they can be ground of tea, they can be smoked and used as an ingredient such as these Smoked Fig Leaf Shortbread Cookies.

They can also be a simple ingredient in a risotto which is what I'm talking about today. This all came together around a bunch of free figs and a huge lobster tail sale. If lobster is ever on sale anywhere, I'm there!

So, if you can get your pie hooks on some cheap lobster, fresh figs, and a few fresh non sprayed fig leaves I've got a recipe for you.

Fig And Lobster Risotto

Here's What You Need:

1 dozen fresh figs
1 fresh unsprayed large fig leaf
2 lobster tails
1/2 cup of white wine
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 cup of arborio rice
2 cups of water
2 tsp of salt
3 sage leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter

Here's What To Do:

 Wash, dry, and cut the fresh figs into halves, then quarters . Set aside.

Take the meat from the lobster tails and cut it into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
Save the shells if you like, they can be used for lobster stock.
Slice the sage leaves thinly and set aside.

In a large pot for risotto heat the olive oil.
When the oil is hot pour the rice into the pot and stir it around to warm it.

Now add in the 2 cups of water and 2 tsp of salt. When the water comes to a boil lay the fig leaf on top of the water and rice.

When the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to the lowest it will go. Let it cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile back at the figs...

Heat a couple of Tbs of olive oil in a skillet.
When the oil is hot add in the thinly sliced shallot.
Saute it until the shallot starts to lightly brown.
Add in the thinly sliced sage leaves.

Saute them for a minute or two.
Add in the 1/2 cup of white wine, along with the figs.

Saute them for a little bit to soften them letting the wine evaporate.
When the figs have cooked add in the pieces of lobster.

Stir them around and simmer them gently. The lobster cooks fast so keep an eye on it, you don't want it to toughen.
Stir everything together well on a low flame.

Right about now the rice should be done. Add 1Tbs of unsalted butter to the fig and lobster mixture.

This gives it a nice creamy texture.
Take the lid off the pot of risotto.

Remove the fig leaf.

Add the fig, lobster, and sage mixture to the risotto.

Stir it all together.  Add a few shreds of fresh sage over the top. Voila! You are done!

Serve it up!

There it is a lovely fall lunch, light and elegant and it only takes 15 minutes to cook!

Coming up next, an Indian special from the garden featuring  eggplant, potato, and bitter melon . Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Where I've Been, What's Been Happening, + Have Some White Peach and Lavender Tart Gluten Free.

So, it's been a while. I was looking back on my blog the other day and I see I've posted a lot fewer recipes in the last two years then I normally would. I haven't stopped cooking and as a matter of fact I've been doing a lot more cooking, only I haven't been able to write about it - until now. I'm a screenwriter by trade. I work with my husband /writing partner Alan Berger 5 days a week. It's how we earn our living, that's what pays the bills. I cook most every day but my weekends were the time I devoted to The Colors of Indian Cooking. The weekends were when I'd turn my kitchen into a cooking lab/photo studio. I cook, Alan takes the pictures. Obviously, all that activity is NOT what happens on work days, but it's what I've been doing for the 9 years I've been writing this blog.
    We've been very busy the last two years, partially because we just finished a TV pilot and series bible, but also because I've been under contract for the last two years working on developing the menu for the CocoaPlanet restaurant here in Sonoma. So, that's where I've been.
For two years my weekends were devoted to starters, mains, and a LOT of desserts. Everything had to be gluten free, (I've developed my own flour blends) many things vegan, and they also wanted a menu friendly to the lactose intolerant. So after a week of writing, rewriting, and notes for our writing work, every Saturday I'd cook and then we'd meet for recipe testing on whatever I was doing. If it worked it would go into the chefs book at the restaurant.  Weekends were still consumed with cooking,  only I wasn't publishing any of it. People were eating it.

Now, CocoaPlanet is moving to Arizona, so my time as a consultant for them here in Sonoma, is done. A lot of the pictures of what I've been cooking I've posted here, on twitter and instagram. I also have 2 big books of my recipes. 

Now I'm trying to decide what exactly to do with all this stuff. Basically, I've got the makings of a cookbook...several cookbooks to be exact. I'm thinking  gluten free desserts to start. For years my friends Paula Wolfert and Steve Sando have told me I should do a cookbook, but I thought I'd never have he time. Now I've accumulated a whole bunch of recipes and I am also  more than a bit overwhelmed as to what to do. I think I really need to do something with all of this.

A few weeks back I made a white peach and lavender frangiapne tart. People asked for the recipe and now I'm finally getting around to publishing it.

White Peach and  Lavender Frangiapane Tart

The Pastry

Here's What You Need:

1 and 1/4 cup of all purpose gluten free  or regular flour , plus extra for dusting.
1 stick of unsalted butter  at room temperture
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbs sugar 
1 egg yolk
3 Tbs of ice water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Here's What to Do:

1. Mix your tart dough. In the bowl of a food processor pulse together 1 and 1/4 cups of gluten free tart flour mix, 3 Tbs sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, the lemon zest, and 7 tbs unsalted butter. Pulse these together until you have a fine meal-like blend.

2. In a small bowl beat together: 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 3 Tbs ice water.

3. Drizzle this mixture over the flour butter mixture in the food processor and pulse until it forms a dough. This happens pretty quickly.

4. Take the dough out and put it on a surface dusted with tapioca flour. Knead a couple of times, roll it into a ball and then flatten it into a disc.

5. When the dough is blended and formed into a disc, wrap it in saran wrap or waxed paper and let it firm up in the freezer for about 10 minutes before working with it.
You can also just keep it in the freezer to use later or roll it out and place it in well greased individual tart pans for later baking and filling.

If you are doing this:

1. Butter 5 small tart pans with removable bottoms - or just one large pan.

2. Cut your disc of chilled dough into five pieces. Or make one large tart.

3. Roll one out and shape it into a disc. Fit the dough into the tart pan. Trim away the excess dough. Do this with each tart pan.

4. Fit Saran Wrap into the pie crust. Poke holes into the crust through the Saran Wrap. Place the tart pans in the freezer to be filled and baked later.

Here's What To Do: (blind baking)

1. Take a big piece of tin foil. Take the pie crust out of the freezer. Remove the
Saran Wrap. Place the foil into the pie crust and up the sides. 

2. Fill the pie shell with rice, beans or pie weights.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pop the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for about 6 minutes.

4. Remove it. Take the foil and pie weights out the crust. Put the crust back in the over for another 6 minutes. Done. Now lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees  and let your blind baked crust cool a bit while you make the filling

The Filling:

Here’s What You Need :

Frangipane Cream
1/3 cup  caster sugar 
6 Tbs unsalted butter at room temperture
 1/2 cup gluten free or regular flour
 3/4 cup almond flour
 2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

4 ripe but firm white peaches
1 tsp  crumbled lavender flowers
1 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbs water 
3 Tbs peach jam

Here’s What to Do:

1. To make the filling, put all the frangipane cream ingredients into a food processor and mix them together. You will get a thick yet still spreadable paste.

2. To prepare the peaches slice them and drizzle them with a bit of lemon juice so they don't turn color.

Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees

3. Fill the tart with the frangipane cream. Spread it evenly. Arrange the peach slices in a row on the surface of the tart until it's filled.

4. Bake for another 40 to 45 minutes until the frangipane is set and the crust is nice and golden.

 5. Take the tart from the oven. Heat the glaze in a microwave for about 20 seconds or so, then brush the hot tart surface (peaches and all) with the glaze. Set the tart on a cooling rack and let it cool before unmolding 

There it is, and there's a lot more where that came from. The big question is  how do I do this? Scripts I know, cookbooks are a new world for me. Stay tuned! 

Coming up next back to the world of Indian food as my garden delivers a Summer menu follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Simple South Indian Fish Curry. Make it in 60 Minutes For The Perfect Lunch or Dinner.

   With all the crap going on out in the world right now, frankly I haven't been much in the mood to write about food.  However, everyone's got to eat and I get a lot of relaxation out of cooking. It's almost a form of zen for me. So even though we may be consumed with the outside world, it's good and healthy to drop back a bit and feed yourself and your family  something delicious like this fish curry. Alan is now mainly eating a vegetarian diet, with the exception of fish, so I guess he's actually a pescetarian . Every couple of days I interrupt the vegetarian/vegan leanings and toss him a fish.  The guy has given up burgers after all. 

There are a lot of amazing fish dishes in the cuisine of South India, and many of them involve coconut, using either coconut milk, or ground coconut. This recipe uses plain ground coconut. One can use either fresh or frozen coconut meat. I used plain grated, unsweetened dried coconut for this dish. I have the fresh at my disposal but I wanted to make sure the recipe could work for people who might have access only to the dried coconut found in most markets. Everything else in the dish is readily available with the exception of the fresh curry leaves and if you don't have those, just leave them out as there is no substitute.

So grab yourself some fresh firm meaty fish (I used cod but snapper, hake, pollack etc will do just fine) and get your curry on. The other great thing about this recipe? It's ready in under an hour which makes it a perfect lunch dish for our writing week.

South Indian Dry Fish Curry

Here's What You Need:

The Paste:
1 and 1/4 lbs of firm fleshed white fish (I used cod in this dish)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 fresh tomato chopped
1 Tbs whole balck p[eppercorns
6 dried red chilies
1 and 1/2 tsp of salt
3/4 cup plus 1/8 cup of grated dried unsweetened coconut

The Fish:
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal (if you don't have it leave it out)
2 tsp turmeric
2/3 cup of water
A handful of fresh curry leaves
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:

Put all the paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor...

...and grind them up.

Cut the fish into cubes.

Get your urad dal (if you have it) mustard seeds and turmeric together.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or kadhai.
When the oil is hot add in the urad dal and mustard seeds.
When they strt to sizzle and pop, add in the Paste...

...and turmeric.

Cook everything for about 3 minutes until it turns fragrant then add the water.

Bring the water to a boil, and when it's boiling add in the fish.

Cook everything for 5 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.
Shake the pan every now and then to cook things evenly. Be certain nothing is sticking and burning.
Then add the curry leaves if using them...

...and the cilantro...

...and you are done! I prepared some basmati rice cooked with cashews, sultanas, cinnamon, and saffron. I served the fish curry on top of that.

You can also serve this with chapattis, or any green vegetable dish.

This cooks up really quickly which makes it a perfect weekday meal, but it also looks pretty cool which makes it company-worthy if you add a bunch of other Indian dishes to go along. I love an entree that takes less than and hour especially during these super-hot summer months!!!

So there you have it. A simple, easy fish curry.
Coming up next by request a White Peach Lavender Frangpane Tart that happens to be #glutenfree.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Eggplant and Coconut, A Simple Vegetarian Biryani.

   Alan has gone mainly vegetarian in his diet with the exception of some pescetarian choices so I've used this change of food policy around the house to move things more in the direction of how I eat. This has enabled me to take full advantage of all the goodies I'm growing in our garden. I love the idea that I can go out pick, and cook a lot of what we eat everyday. This has brought me back to nearly daily Indian dishes. Fish or even meat if served,  is not the star but rather a side player. A little bit  goes a long way.
   Since  we have always worked out of our home office, I like things that I can make ahead or that come together easy depending on what's available in the garden on any given day, which brings me to eggplants. Every year we grow a variety of eggplants from the large classic Italian, to Japanese, to the tiny Thai, and Indian finger eggplants. I thought a nice vegetarian biryani would be good so I looked to a traditional Kerala recipe of eggplant and coconut biryani or layered rice as it's is sometimes called.
Looking in the garden I thought my eggplants might not be ready yet so a trip to the farmers market might be needed, but I took a look and whoa!!! Eggplants had arrived!!!

I cut three Japanese eggplants of a pretty good size...

 ...some chilies, and mint.

 I wanted tomatoes but mine have not ripened yet. It's been a relatively cool Summer for us this year so all the vegetables are behind schedule. I had most of the basics for the dish so the shopping and prep was pretty easy.

Eggplant and Coconut Biryani

Here's What You Need:

2 or 3 Japanese Eggplants cut lengthwise and into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups of coconut milk (full fat)
1 and 1/4 cups of Basmati rice
1/2 cup of grated unsweetened coconut fresh or dried
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
1 and 3/4 cups of water
5 thin round slices of ginger
1 onion chopped roughly
1 large shallot peeled and sliced thinly
1 to 3 chopped green serrano chilies (with seeds) depending on how hot you want this.
2  dried red chilies broken into pieces
1 large tomato chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs lemon juice
# ztbs vegetable oil

Here's What To Do:

Rinse the Basmati rice and place it in 1 and 1/4 cup s of water to soak for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put the coconut in a cast iron pan along with the dried red chilies and dry roast them until they are slightly golden. This takes just a couple of minutes so keep an eye out.

Take the toasted coconut and red chilies, and cool them a bit.
Slice the eggplants in half the long way and chunk them up into 1 inch pieces.

Place  the chopped serrano chilies, ginger slices, sliced shallot, and onion  in a food processor or blender.

Add the toasted coconut and dried red chilies...

,,,and grind into a paste.

Than add in the coriander, garam masala...

...and turmeric.

Blend again then put everything in a large skillet or kadhai along with 2 Tbs of vegetable oil and stir over medium heat until it colors. This takes about 5 minutes.

Add in the eggplants, half the salt...

...and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk.

Stir everything around.

Turn the heat up to high for about 3 minutes, then turn down to medium.
Cover the pan and cook until the eggplants have softened about 15 to 20 minutes.
Check in on things every now and then to make sure nothing is burning or sticking.
When the eggplants are soft move them to a bowl and set them aside.

In a large pot add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the poil is hot add in the tomato...

 ...mint and cilantro.

Cook and stir until most of the moisture from the tomato has evaporated.
Now, add the rice and the water it was soaking in...

...along with the rest of the salt, and the rest of the coconut milk.

Bring to  a boil over high heat than slap a cover on the pot and turn the heat way down to the lowest setting for about 10 minutes. We are not going to cook the rice all the way through as it is going to finish in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly grease an oven-proof dish. I usually use a clay pot but I used a pyrex casserole dish this time to get a good view of the biryani.

After the rice is cooked partly through (about 10 minutes) place half the semi cooked rice in the casserole dish.

Layer the defrosted or fresh peas on top of the rice.

Then add the eggplant mixture you've set aside. Layer the peas and eggplant together and mix them a bit.

Add the rest of the rice on top of that.

Then squeeze 3 Tbs of lemon juice over it all.

Cover the dish and place it in the oven.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
Take the dish out and uncover it.
Sprinkle the top with a dash more garam masala, and a sprinkling of more chopped cilantro and mint.

Then  dish it out. See the layers?

I served mine in clay mini biryani pots, with a bit of cooling  cumin raita and some flatbread.

Chapatti would be great with it also.

There it is a simple vegetarian lunch right out of the garden. This can  be made ahead and reheated later, or the next day.  Mellowing only makes it better. This recipe will feed between 4 and 6 people.





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